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The Market of VNs Around the World - Discussion


OriginalRen
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I wanted to make this thread to discuss some negatives and positives about the visual novel market around the world. While my post only focuses on the negatives, I encourage positive discussion as well. I have listed some major points below addressing what I believe are problems in the western market for PC games and what this means in the possible future.

1. Lack of Moege Localization -

I don't think it's a huge surprise to a lot of people that fans tend to enjoy cute slice-of-life romance novels with some comedy thrown into the mix. While this isn't true for every fan, I would say that at least 50% of visual novel players in the west and currently in Japan (as shown by Getchu's sale numbers each month) enjoy moege. The problem here is that western developers are not translating these novels due to a lack of getting licensing rights. I believe there are a lot of reasons for this (one of those reasons being stated in a thread located here), and because of this I think there will be a point in the distant future when visual novels reach a peak and companies in the west run out of material to work with.

2. Running Out of "Good" Games -

This point is a little bit arbitrary because I can't really define what a "good" visual novel is, however I can safely say that there are certain games which the community feels are excellent reads. To give you an example, ask any English reader of visual novels what games they have played and which ones they enjoyed the most. Chances are they will all have very similar answers. While there is nothing necessarily wrong in enjoying games everyone else agrees is good, there is a problem for localization companies that comes from this idea.

Let me provide you with an example of how good games will eventually reach a peak and how I believe this will affect the market in the west as a whole. Let's use the well known company Key. Most visual novel fans strongly agree that they make great games as shown by their ratings and popularity outside of the VN market. Now imagine this: what happens when and if all of the Key games become localized? Companies will no longer have games to translate from them, and as such, there won't be any more Key games in the future. In other words, there will come a time when "good" games have all been translated and localized, and when that point comes in the distant future, what do companies do then? This idea brings me to my next point.

3. Company Release Dates -

Companies like Key cannot afford to release a game every year like most visual novel groups that produce moege can (i.e. = Lump of Sugar or Pulltop). While I can't specifically say what the major reason behind all of this is, there are some reasons I am sure you as a reader can deduce.

4. Japanese Priorities Set Visual Novel Localization -

The Japanese PC game market is highly dominated by moege romance novels and nukige. This can be shown through Getchu's top sale numbers for visual novels each month (i.e. = Clover Day's additional h-scenes a year ago), as well as the extensive amount of advertising that is plastered in Akihabara for these types of games. The last Friday of the month is known as "release day" in Japan, where most of the big companies sell their games. Because Japan itself is the country all of these visual novels are being made in, translators (whether professional or not) are stuck with the content the country provides. If you are a professional translator, this poses a challenge (see point #1 above), and if you are a fan translator, you might be stuck doing a project for a type of game you aren't interested in yourself.

In the end, I worry for the market simply due to the fact that Japan is and currently has been dominated by moege and nukige. While I enjoy the former style of games, not everyone likes them. I feel our viewpoints of what we want to have and what we expect to have as fans coordinate too well, and as such this causes an issue. We want good visual novels to be translated, and therefore we expect it to happen, ignoring all of the factors that may prevent this. Japan itself controls the visual novel market, and so long as we continue enjoying the genre, we are subject to enjoy what they continue to produce.

What are your thoughts on the matter? I look forward to reading your responses! :)

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I agree with 4)

I just don't think the kind of game they produce is very suited for a western audience.

The transition from Japan to the West would probably be hard given they answer demand from their own country without taking into consideration possibilities elsewhere.

As you say, the sort of games that are mainly released are fully representative of this trend.

It's a matter of who they want to sell their games to, and who it will appeal. Maybe the culture gap or the risk/reward ratio are too big/high for a notable change to happen.

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I agree with 4)

I just don't think the kind of game they produce is very suited for a western audience.

The transition from Japan to the West would probably be hard given they answer demand from their own country without taking into consideration possibilities elsewhere.

As you say, the sort of games that are mainly released are fully representative of this trend.

It's a matter of who they want to sell their games to, and who it will appeal. Maybe the culture gap or the risk/reward ratio are too big/high for a notable change to happen.

I like the point you bring up about cultural gaps. A lot of people assume Japan is extremely xenophobic when it comes to releasing things, but as I stated in a previous thread, that isn't what I believe to be the major issue here. I strongly believe Japan wants to localize their games and get more fans, but it's the fear of losing their license to sell in their own country that makes them worried about opening up, especially moege companies that already make games every year. When it's a question of selling in a country you know how to appeal to versus losing that right and selling to fans you aren't sure of, of course you'd stick with the safe latter.

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Moege generally aren't something I personally go for, but I can definitely see a lot of untapped potential there. Case in point, Princess Evangile seems to have done really well for MG. The western market is probably big enough by now to sustain a few releases of that kind each year. Pretty sure someone's going to fill that gap sooner or later. There's money to be made there, after all.

As far as running out of good games goes, I don't really think that's all that much of an issue, except for kickstarters. It's somewhat hard to succesfully kickstart a localization of an unknown game, even if the game is really good, moreso if the game is good but not really amazing. I do think the market is big enough to sustain a few releases per genre for a number of genres each year, though. And although the Japanese market favors moeges, it's not like that's the only kind of game released there, or the only successful kind, even. Case in point: https://twitter.com/shigeo_h/status/662615531426476033 https://twitter.com/shigeo_h/status/663283963264274432, and that game is anything but a moege. Put another way, the output per year of Japanese releases is still far greater than the output of localizations, so even given a slant towards certain genres in the original market, there's still a big enough pool to pick from so that you don't need to localize crap just to avoid running out of games to release. For that matter, while the pool of really awesome VNs may be rather small, a game doesn't have to be absolutely amazing to sell well enough to turn a profit. It just has to be good. There's many more good VNs than amazing ones. And indeed, a VN doesn't have to be good or even just decent to do well - case in point, any of the Sakura games.

 

So all in all, I'm not worried. At the current size, we won't ever run out of games to localize. And if the market does grow further, it'll eventually be big enough to influence the decisions made by Japanese devs on what kind of game to produce - or allow devs that already produce games suited to the western market to give their games a higher budget since they can count on additional sales from this market.

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For that matter, while the pool of really awesome VNs may be rather small, a game doesn't have to be absolutely amazing to sell well enough to turn a profit. It just has to be good. There's many more good VNs than amazing ones. And indeed, a VN doesn't have to be good or even just decent to do well - case in point, any of the Sakura games.

I'd say this is a good point, but it does require a certain amount of caution. The Sakura games which you bring up only do well because of boobage, and it's only reached us because

a) It's an OELVN which means it doesn't need localising and

b) It's on Steam, and is the most boobtastic series on Steam to boot, which means for those with only a casual interest in VNs but an interest in tits, they're there without having to look too hard. If Steam laxed its policy of nudity and titles like Grisaia, Evangile and even Nekopara were available with H-scenes, I'd bet Sakura wouldn't stand a hope in hell.

If the Sakura games were made in Japan and the decision had to be made as to whether or not to localise them, the answer would probably be no. It might be as popular if they did get the localisation, but it'd be a risk as Ren was talking about earlier, and probably too much of a risk to make it worthwhile.

 

To my mind, VNs will maintain a sort of status quo for the time being. For the market to grow, however, I'd say it lands in companies such as JAST to advertise their wares better - great company with some great titles, but my word are they shit at letting you know about them.

Edited by AaronIsCrunchy
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To quote from an article Sanahtlig did not too long ago on the subject, "Japanese companies don't care what you want, and neither do localization companies.  They want profits, and releasing titles people want is often unfeasible or unprofitable.  Time to learn Japanese."

This topic is about the VN market around the world, and yet there would virtually be no VN market if it weren't for the Japanese. Meaning all other VN markets are pretty much dependent on the Japanese, since very little quality VNs get produced anywhere else. A reliance on another country for your own market isn't healthy and will lead to little growth. Imagine if only one country wrote and published novels, global literature would be so limited! And that is essentially what the VN market is like. In order for the western market to really expand, we need to produce good VN's, not just translate them. And ironically enough, most of what gets translated isn't even good, lol. So long as the market is this dependent on Japan, learning Japanese really is the best option.  

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Out of curiosity, I checked out the top 50 highly rated games on VNDB. The great majority came out in the last decade. A fair share in the last 5 years. While this is not a definitive analysis (since to my knowledge VNDB is mostly a resource used by western VN players), I don't think there is an actual risk of running out of good games to play - that is, there is no such thing as a golden age when all or most of the great games were produced and now they're mainly doing moege and nukige. Good games will always be made. And if player asks for them, and are willing to pay for them, they will be translated.

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 Lack of Moege Localization: its your option it has nothing to do with the world or VN and there really is not a define way to say moege. the word can be anything from rpg, love story, horror, anything.

Running Out of "Good" Games: options again, some might consider it good others may not. just think about mass effect, it has the same vn elements but many didnt consider it a vn but many others did.

Company Release Dates: have you try developing a game, NO. there has to be a good reason why they don't release them, after all you dont want a broken game like assassin's creed or batman games.

Japanese Priorities Set Visual Novel Localization: as many others and by our overview, we can see that japan people do not want to learn english and the english community is only willing to play jp games that are popular.

that should answer all your questions.

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Moege generally aren't something I personally go for, but I can definitely see a lot of untapped potential there. Case in point, Princess Evangile seems to have done really well for MG. The western market is probably big enough by now to sustain a few releases of that kind each year. Pretty sure someone's going to fill that gap sooner or later. There's money to be made there, after all.

As far as running out of good games goes, I don't really think that's all that much of an issue, except for kickstarters. It's somewhat hard to succesfully kickstart a localization of an unknown game, even if the game is really good, moreso if the game is good but not really amazing. I do think the market is big enough to sustain a few releases per genre for a number of genres each year, though. And although the Japanese market favors moeges, it's not like that's the only kind of game released there, or the only successful kind, even. Case in point: https://twitter.com/shigeo_h/status/662615531426476033 https://twitter.com/shigeo_h/status/663283963264274432, and that game is anything but a moege. Put another way, the output per year of Japanese releases is still far greater than the output of localizations, so even given a slant towards certain genres in the original market, there's still a big enough pool to pick from so that you don't need to localize crap just to avoid running out of games to release. For that matter, while the pool of really awesome VNs may be rather small, a game doesn't have to be absolutely amazing to sell well enough to turn a profit. It just has to be good. There's many more good VNs than amazing ones. And indeed, a VN doesn't have to be good or even just decent to do well - case in point, any of the Sakura games.

 

So all in all, I'm not worried. At the current size, we won't ever run out of games to localize. And if the market does grow further, it'll eventually be big enough to influence the decisions made by Japanese devs on what kind of game to produce - or allow devs that already produce games suited to the western market to give their games a higher budget since they can count on additional sales from this market.

In your point you mention how something doesn't need to be absolutely amazing to sell well. I guess another reason I bring up these points is that it seems to me that most English readers only want specific genres localized. Take for example the failed otome Kickstarter that Sekai Project didn't fund. While otome games aren't necessarily popular in Japan, the doujin market is, hence why more females attend Comiket each year. My point is, that otome game wasn't a very "amazing" game, yet it didn't get funded.

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To quote from an article Sanahtlig did not too long ago on the subject, "Japanese companies don't care what you want, and neither do localization companies.  They want profits, and releasing titles people want is often unfeasible or unprofitable.  Time to learn Japanese."

This topic is about the VN market around the world, and yet there would virtually be no VN market if it weren't for the Japanese. Meaning all other VN markets are pretty much dependent on the Japanese, since very little quality VNs get produced anywhere else. A reliance on another country for your own market isn't healthy and will lead to little growth. Imagine if only one country wrote and published novels, global literature would be so limited! And that is essentially what the VN market is like. In order for the western market to really expand, we need to produce good VN's, not just translate them. And ironically enough, most of what gets translated isn't even good, lol. So long as the market is this dependent on Japan, learning Japanese really is the best option.  

Your last sentence is essentially my 4th point in a nutshell.

Out of curiosity, I checked out the top 50 highly rated games on VNDB. The great majority came out in the last decade. A fair share in the last 5 years. While this is not a definitive analysis (since to my knowledge VNDB is mostly a resource used by western VN players), I don't think there is an actual risk of running out of good games to play - that is, there is no such thing as a golden age when all or most of the great games were produced and now they're mainly doing moege and nukige. Good games will always be made. And if player asks for them, and are willing to pay for them, they will be translated.

See that's the problem though, fans of the west seem to be so selfish when it comes to certain novels being released. Again, it's the want versus expect argument. Majikoi is a great game fans say, so nothing will ever come close to beating it. In another example, the Grisaia trilogy is amazing to western fans, yet nobody batted an eyelid on the new game coming out by Frontwing with lots of awesome potential. People play a good game and refuse to believe other games can beat it; they judge all novels around their favorites.

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 If we're talking about the future, I'm placing all my chips on the OELVNs. The market will grow and more (good) writers will appear with time, naturally bringing us more (good) content. I know this is a bit out of topic but I believe this is what the current market will lead to. Japan will keep producing titles we'll be eager to read and companies like JAST will keep bringing them to us, but I don't see this market holding on forever.

I do strongly agree with the second point, we're running out of popular (and manageable) material. Quite a few of the most famous VNs got officially funded and are being localized right now, what will they bring next? Of course there are amazing titles that many of us really want to read, and I feel like this adds another point to this discussion: aside from mangagamer's nukiges, we're not really getting many new titles. By this, I mean titles that do not have english translations. I might be wrong here but I feel like there's some truth in it, so let's take some famous titles that are getting/got localized recently.

  • Muv-Luv games had fan-TLs already (not sure if everything since there's tons of content);
  • Clannad as well despite the TL being said sub-par (haven't read it, can't say for sure);
  • G-Senjou nou Maou - same.

I'm only mentioning the ones that I know about, I haven't been around for that long so I don't know if games like Steins;Gate and Saya no Uta already had fan-TLs before JAST picked them up. Once we run out of popular content, what will they localize? Will it sell well enough? If companies choose to use kickstarter for them, will they even succeed? Honestly, I don't think so. ):

 Lack of Moege Localization: its your option it has nothing to do with the world or VN and there really is not a define way to say moege. the word can be anything from rpg, love story, horror, anything.

Running Out of "Good" Games: options again, some might consider it good others may not. just think about mass effect, it has the same vn elements but many didnt consider it a vn but many others did.

Company Release Dates: have you try developing a game, NO. there has to be a good reason why they don't release them, after all you dont want a broken game like assassin's creed or batman games.

Japanese Priorities Set Visual Novel Localization: as many others and by our overview, we can see that japan people do not want to learn english and the english community is only willing to play jp games that are popular.

that should answer all your questions.

@Bold lines - Wut? 

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Re: Running Out of "Good" Games

Won't happen.  Most localization companies can't even keep pace with individual Japanese developers (just look at JAST and Nitroplus, or MangaGamer and Navel).  That's not even factoring in the new partnerships that are occurring.  With ~95% of VNs untranslated, running out of good VNs to translate is an odd concern.

There's a lot of problems bogging down the English eroge market.  Here's a few:

  1. Porn stigma: English-speaking cultures stigmatize porn.  In Japan, porn sells games.  In the West, it has the opposite effect, as English speakers equate presence of porn with "no other value".  In addition, porn gets in the way of mainstream distribution, advertisement, and press coverage.  Add to that an audience that thinks porn should be free, and you have a real market issue. 
  2. Small market is small: Because of other factors, the market is limited.  Because the market is small, many Japanese developers aren't interested in catering to it.  As a result, we don't have a variety of good games that will appeal to different interests, which keeps the market small.
  3. Visual novels aren't games and aren't books: VNs fit into a niche between the two with no established market in the West.  They're games without gameplay.  They're novels with often subpar translations, or simply prose that doesn't fit established conventions and Western concepts.
  4. VNs are viewed as sexist escapist fantasies for nerds who can't get a girlfriend: This stigma turns people away, discourages open discussion and dissemination (especially offline) by those who stick around, and encourages a culture of piracy.
  5. The culture of piracy: Because of the above factors, as well as the nature of the target demographic (tech-savvy college-aged males usually with no stable income), the target audience tends to pirate rather than buy.  One thing I've learned is that people are more likely to buy games if there's no free alternative available to them.  Unfortunately, the VN fanbase tends to be tech-savvy, so that rarely occurs.  Steam is a better target, as evidenced by the 15k or so hits on my Sakura Swim Club patch install guide (most VN fans could install the patch without a guide I'm sure).
Edited by sanahtlig
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just think about mass effect, it has the same vn elements but many didnt consider it a vn but many others did.

So exactly who is this person(s?) that consider Mass Effect a visual novel? Because it's not a visual novel, there aren't really any visual novel elements, there is some dialog and choices which is common in both RPGs and visual novel, but even they are perhaps even more RPG elemts than visual novel elements.

 Company Release Dates: have you try developing a game, NO. there has to be a good reason why they don't release them, after all you dont want a broken game like assassin's creed or batman games.

Now I'm no developer, but these are already developed games and while I'm sure there's a very real possibility to break the game when translating I am fairly certain that this is not anywhere near the top on the list when considering localizations. 

 

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There's a lot of problems bogging down the English eroge market.  Here's a few:

  1. Porn stigma: English-speaking cultures stigmatize porn.  In Japan, porn sells games.  In the West, it has the opposite effect, as English speakers equate presence of porn with "no other value".  In addition, porn gets in the way of mainstream distribution, advertisement, and press coverage.  Add to that an audience that thinks porn should be free, and you have a real market issue. 
  2. Small market is small: Because of other factors, the market is limited.  Because the market is small, many Japanese developers aren't interested in catering to it.  As a result, we don't have a variety of good games that will appeal to different interests, which keeps the market small.
  3. Visual novels aren't games and aren't books: VNs fit into a niche between the two with no established market in the West.  They're games without gameplay.  They're books with often subpar translations, or simply prose that doesn't fit established conventions and Western concepts.
  4. VNs are viewed as sexist escapist fantasies for nerds who can't get a girlfriend: This stigma turns people away, discourages open discussion and dissemination (especially offline) by those who do, and encourages a culture of piracy.
  5. The culture of piracy: Because of the above factors, as well as the nature of the target demographic (tech-savvy college-aged males usually with no stable income), the target audience tends to pirate rather than buy.  One thing I've learned is that people are more likely to buy games if there's no free alternative available to them.  Unfortunately, the VN fanbase tends to be tech-savvy, so that rarely occurs.  Steam is a better target, as evidenced by the 15k or so hits on my Sakura Swim Club patch install guide (most VN fans could install the patch without a guide I'm sure).

I agree and can confirm many of these points. I've talked to a few anime fans I know and they have the most unpredictable of reactions when I tell them about VNs. Some think it's just for fapping, others hate the concept even though they call themselves otakus and the funniest example of all: The people that introduced me to anime loved Fate/Zero. I went and read F/SN before watching that. When I told them what the source material of the Fate franchise was and showed them F/SN, they literally told me: "You fucking ruined the show for me." Because logic. I have also tried to present VNs to friends of mine who enjoy literature, and VNs with similar themes to the books they love. Most of the replies I get are snide comments about how "that is for dumbasses and horny teens", that it is "dumbed down trash for people who can't enjoy literature", etc...

Anyway, there are still some great games to TL, but their themes might not be the best for the West in general. For example, most Nitro+ titles are like crack for me, but their themes such as pedophillia in Saya no Uta, the ending of Kikokugai, the rape scene in Hanachirasu, those are all themes that this market frowns upon. Honestly, the only franchise I've seen get away with having sex in it is The Witcher and even then it's finicky for some. Many VNs are good and could be TLed (I won't speak of the untranslatable problem since I don't know moonspeak), but what assures us that entities such as Fox News and over-zealous religious people won't immediately rip them to shreds with their narrow mindedness and sense of "decency and morals"? I can already smell the smoke from the torches and imagine the pitchforks that would claim that "this is what's ruining our youths and oh please, will anyone think of the poor children!".

Am I blowing this out of proportion? Mayhaps, but I prefer to remain pessimistic rather than have my hopes shattered, as much as I'd like VNs to be more recognised and acknowledged in the West.

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Another take on this is that I don't think we'll ever see VN's the way they are done now by both amateurs in the West or companies in Japan have any succes outside of being a running gag for youtubers to over-react about.

I think it has to change in many ways and already has to some extent.

Visual Novels are just a kind of story telling genre, and story telling games are getting more popular nowadays. Titles such as Life is strange, Beyond two souls and even the Last of us or Until Dawn are interesting alternatives that please a whole a new kind of gamer more interested in narratives rather than simple gameplay.

Really I don't have much hope nor trust in the Western VN scene which - aside from exceptionnal productions like Cave Cave Deus - just badly copy an already unfit genre for their regions.

If it's coming, I think it's going to come from Western companies, and not in the way Japan does it. In my opinion, the VN genre is wide enough to include many more story telling games than simple sprites, text and background with Japanese like OST's.

Edited by Guest
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just think about mass effect, it has the same vn elements but many didnt consider it a vn but many others did.

 

So exactly who is this person(s?) that consider Mass Effect a visual novel? Because it's not a visual novel, there aren't really any visual novel elements, there is some dialog and choices which is common in both RPGs and visual novel, but even they are perhaps even more RPG elemts than visual novel elements.

 Company Release Dates: have you try developing a game, NO. there has to be a good reason why they don't release them, after all you dont want a broken game like assassin's creed or batman games.

Now I'm no developer, but these are already developed games and while I'm sure there's a very real possibility to break the game when translating I am fairly certain that this is not anywhere near the top on the list when considering localizations. 

 

yep but its not RPG as well, it doesnt have the magic or random enemy spawn types, the game fits into the FPS. thats not the problem, people are refusing to accept all the stuff the developer mixed into, so in reality its really called a Visual Novel, action role-playing, third person shooter video game series. we just haven't got a name for these kinds of hybrid games. the future of games could be many things, just making it one thing is like buying water with another water.

these guys tell you why there's no set date, we just dont know when its finish. they could make a new engine, the art is taking forever, bugs, oh knows.

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Out of curiosity, I checked out the top 50 highly rated games on VNDB. The great majority came out in the last decade. A fair share in the last 5 years. While this is not a definitive analysis (since to my knowledge VNDB is mostly a resource used by western VN players), I don't think there is an actual risk of running out of good games to play - that is, there is no such thing as a golden age when all or most of the great games were produced and now they're mainly doing moege and nukige. Good games will always be made. And if player asks for them, and are willing to pay for them, they will be translated.

See that's the problem though, fans of the west seem to be so selfish when it comes to certain novels being released. Again, it's the want versus expect argument. Majikoi is a great game fans say, so nothing will ever come close to beating it. In another example, the Grisaia trilogy is amazing to western fans, yet nobody batted an eyelid on the new game coming out by Frontwing with lots of awesome potential. People play a good game and refuse to believe other games can beat it; they judge all novels around their favorites.

 

Most people who play VNs can't play them in japanese. It's only natural that they don't follow the Japanese VN market with attention. Only when a title is licensed for the western market they become involved in the process, reading reviews, watching trailers, and so on. Then they play it, and it might become their favourite game, or not. Masterpieces don't come out very often, so once you've found your personal favourite VN, it will probably remain the same for quite some time. I don't see a problem with that.

It is a fact that most games available in English (excluding the nukige, which are also a substantial part of the market, but I'm not interested in them right now) are good or very good. That is because there are many fan-translators who obviously decided to work only on their favourite games. This is how we got MuvLuv Alternative, Sharin no Kuni, Cross Channel, G-senjou no Maou, etc. This is the origin of the high standards many players have. Is this a bad thing? Not particularly. As I have said, I don't expect we'll ever run out of good games to play.

 

 

Edited by Overlord87
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2. Running Out of "Good" Games -

When you take into consideration that only about 5%-10% of VNs have been translated I don't think that running out of good VNs is going to be a problem in any time soon because for that to happen we would have to first cash up to JP VN market and I don't see that happening in at least next 20 years even if VNs popularity in west and number of translated VNs continues to grow at rate that it has up till now. Rather then running out of good VNs to translate the problem we have now is getting JP companies to agree on localization of their VNs witch is probably a main obstacle of VN market in a west. 

Other then that I think that VNs have a very promising future in a west and that other problems are slowly getting slowed by themselves.

We had a luck that exactly when localization of VNs has started to rise that an existing western game trend started to drop and it opened up a space for VNs.

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Again, it's not the fear of running out of content to localize, rather it's the fear of being able to localize games in the distant future. Again, most recent translations that are actual games (excluding nukige) already have translations or a framework to work from (i.e. = Clannad). Sure, there are plenty of games out there, but until companies in Japan and the EOCS become more lenient, I feel things will eventually reach a peak.

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Again, it's not the fear of running out of content to localize, rather it's the fear of being able to localize games in the distant future. Again, most recent translations that are actual games (excluding nukige) already have translations or a framework to work from (i.e. = Clannad). Sure, there are plenty of games out there, but until companies in Japan and the EOCS become more lenient, I feel things will eventually reach a peak.

That is a same thing I was saying is a main obstacle of VN market in a west. True I don't think that things look that bad as localization companies had recently got a green light from some big developers from Japan like Key and I think that that is a pretty good sing. Sure they did already have a fan-translation but I think that what is important is that they are actually getting green light. Also some recently localized JRPGs on steam ware a huge success. So it seems like Japanese companies are slowly opening up to the west.

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3 points I want to bring up regarding translation/localization issues with the VN world.

1. Players only playing localized/translated titles. Not wanting to learn Japanese.

I would like to bring this issue into light as we always have people constantly whining and bitching at our fantranslators about "hurrying it up" and bugging them about when a translation is going to finish. I used to be one of these impatient little brats but I took the initiative to learn Japanese last year and it's been paying off a lot. This was a tremendous advantage for me as a visual novel reader as I now have access and can completely understand about 70-80% more untranslated light vn reads and slowly improving so I could have the patience to read through the 50+ hour long untranslated visual novels and know 95% of what's going on. Even in just the basic nukige/moege genre, they used rather similar phrases and some words tend to be overused a lot so it doesn't hurt if you learn a bit of Japanese. It's not Mandarin where a syllable/word can mean 8 different things by the way you pronounce them... My advice: LEARN JAPANESE NOW or get left in the dust and not be able to play more enjoyable VNs. 

2. The localized/translated VN genre is LIMITED.

Most translated VNs also lean towards only certain genres like vanilla, drama, harem, slice of life, school life, mystery, yuri, osananajimi, inseki and if you want more specific fetishes and genres like bondage, NTR, yaoi, furry, loli, incest, other -deres (other than tsundere or kuudere), femdom, futanari, pregenant women, you will need a huge shovel as digging for specific genres is a hard task and sometimes you can forget about it as they don't even exist as translated works at all..... The specific genre/fetishes tend to be a lot more interesting works out of the bunch as they are not often released in the public and they are more specialized for specific group of audience. Localization companies don't bother with these specific niches as it won't make them enough money, so hoping for a fantranslation or learning Japanese is your best bet with the latter being more..... RELIABLE. As sanahtlig said, "SMALL MARKET IS SMALL" and even SMALLER for certain fetish/genre lovers. 

3. Pray 5-10 years from now that we will have some ultimate technology/gadget/software that is not exclusive to the MI6, FBI, or CIA that can translate any language directly to another in a consistent and conversational manner. 

If it can translate this sentence: ONE MORNING I SHOT AN ELEPHANT IN MY PAJAMAS. HOW HE GOT INTO MY PAJAMAS I'LL NEVER KNOW.

in different languages without sounding perverted or changing its whole meaning, then we got something useful!

We can only hope, but a release of such technology to the public will be a gamechanger in visual novel reading as well as eliminate some jobs. Imagine a world without Sekai Project and your typical 10 year old kid can now read 50+ hour VN with ease. 

Edited by CeruleanGamer
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Again, it's not the fear of running out of content to localize, rather it's the fear of being able to localize games in the distant future. Again, most recent translations that are actual games (excluding nukige) already have translations or a framework to work from (i.e. = Clannad). Sure, there are plenty of games out there, but until companies in Japan and the EOCS become more lenient, I feel things will eventually reach a peak.

The problem with this argument is that it could've applied at any point in the history of VN localization.  But in fact companies like JAST never did run out of good games to localize, and in fact their list of partnerships just continued to grow.  The environment is actually improving due to a variety of factors: the rise of anime culture, increased attention from fansites like VNDB and fan translation groups, the opening up of Steam to VNs, the rise of Kickstarter as a platform for funding VN localization, and the gradual decay of the Japanese market (which forces developers to look at other options or die out).

You're looking at one tiny little microcosm: Sekai Project's partnership with Key, and forseeing that soon SP will run out of Key games to localize or fan translations to exploit.  Well yes, the low hanging fruit will be picked and then SP will have to move to harder targets.  That's hardly reflective of the market as a whole.

The English eroge market is in trouble, but the threat isn't lack of developer interest.  The threat is that they'll ignore the nascent English eroge market and focus on Steam and Kickstarter instead (which are hostile to erotic content), causing eroge licensing opportunities to dry up.  There's a very real possibility that companies will further adapt to the Western market, dropping the content types that are less appealing or offensive in Western culture: ero, especially ero involving lolis.  I like VNs because of their unique Japanese traits, so if these traits get lost in translation then it hardly matters to me if the market flourishes.  The market I cared about will have dried up.

 

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Again, it's not the fear of running out of content to localize, rather it's the fear of being able to localize games in the distant future. Again, most recent translations that are actual games (excluding nukige) already have translations or a framework to work from (i.e. = Clannad). Sure, there are plenty of games out there, but until companies in Japan and the EOCS become more lenient, I feel things will eventually reach a peak.

The problem with this argument is that it could've applied at any point in the history of VN localization.  But in fact companies like JAST never did run out of good games to localize, and in fact their list of partnerships just continued to grow.  The environment is actually improving due to a variety of factors: the rise of anime culture, increased attention from fansites like VNDB and fan translation groups, the opening up of Steam to VNs, the rise of Kickstarter as a platform for funding VN localization, and the gradual decay of the Japanese market (which forces developers to look at other options or die out).

You're looking at one tiny little microcosm: Sekai Project's partnership with Key, and forseeing that soon SP will run out of Key games to localize or fan translations to exploit.  Well yes, the low hanging fruit will be picked and then SP will have to move to harder targets.  That's hardly reflective of the market as a whole.

The English eroge market is in trouble, but the threat isn't lack of developer interest.  The threat is that they'll ignore the nascent English eroge market and focus on Steam and Kickstarter instead (which are hostile to erotic content), causing eroge licensing opportunities to dry up.  There's a very real possibility that companies will further adapt to the Western market, dropping the content types that are less appealing or offensive in Western culture: ero, especially ero involving lolis.  I like VNs because of their unique Japanese traits, so if these traits get lost in translation then it hardly matters to me if the market flourishes.  The market I cared about will have dried up.

 

It was an example sanahtlig, not a full representation of the market. There is a reason I said that the word "good" is an arbitrary term. What you think is a good game is not necessarily what I or others may enjoy, making the JAST comment moot (i.e. = I hate School Days).

As for lack of developer interest, someone else was arguing that point, so I can't really say much about that. Cerulean is right in saying that learning the language is a much better option, but a lot of fans feel entitled in the west and that seems to be a major issue when it comes to anything on the internet.

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The English eroge market is in trouble, but the threat isn't lack of developer interest.  The threat is that they'll ignore the nascent English eroge market and focus on Steam and Kickstarter instead (which are hostile to erotic content), causing eroge licensing opportunities to dry up.  There's a very real possibility that companies will further adapt to the Western market, dropping the content types that are less appealing or offensive in Western culture: ero, especially ero involving lolis.  I like VNs because of their unique Japanese traits, so if these traits get lost in translation then it hardly matters to me if the market flourishes.  The market I cared about will have dried up.

TIL there was a nascent English eroge market. Oh well, if it dries up it's not that big of a deal, I'm sure there's enough porn or child porn on the internet for you to enjoy until the end of your life.

Whatever, to me it sounds like you want two things that do not work together, growth of quality porn games' market ? And in the West if possible ?

You can't blame a whole culture, that's not how it works. I think the target audience is waaay too small and furthermore isn't very inclinded to purchasing those kind of games in the range of price they are sold at in Japan. If they even purchase them.

So if you tell me that it's already not working anymore in Japan, I have no idea how you think it's going to happen else where.

Edited by Guest
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